Goats evacuated from Howth Head as gorse fire continues to burn

Dublin Fire Brigade says 40-acre blaze may continue for several days

A Dublin Fire Brigade spokeswoman said firefighters were working “flat out” to contain the blaze and did not expect to be finished “any time soon”. Photograph: Julien Behall/PA Wire

A Dublin Fire Brigade spokeswoman said firefighters were working “flat out” to contain the blaze and did not expect to be finished “any time soon”. Photograph: Julien Behall/PA Wire

Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 01:00


A herd of goats has had to be evacuated from Howth Hill in Co Dublin as firefighters battled a large gorse fire in the area.

Dublin Fire Brigade were still fighting the 40-acre blaze last night and believe it may continue for several days. Four fire trucks and two water tanks have battled to control the fire since Wednesday afternoon when an airline pilot raised the alarm after spotting flames while flying overhead

Flames reached as high as 15 feet in some areas and a thick plume of smoke was visible from across Dublin bay.

Yesterday evening a spokeswoman at the fire brigade said firefighters were working “flat out” to contain the blaze, and they didn’t expect to be finished “any time soon”. She indicated that the area will probably continue burning for a number of days.

Earlier, the fire brigade had said the blaze was under control and although some houses may have initially been at risk that threat had passed. However, in uncertain wind conditions the fire crews were facing a challenge last night.

The Heathland Management Project had to quickly evacuate goats grazing on the hill as part of a biodiversity scheme. The goats are now in Newbridge House in Donabate and will be returned to the hill when it is safe.

The task of controlling the blaze had been complicated by the lack of an adequate water supply. “As always, water supply is a problem,” a spokesman said. Fire crews closed off half of the fairways on Howth Golf Club and used buggies to transport equipment to the hill where the fire burned at the top of the headland.

Gorse fires occur frequently during sustained periods of hot weather. Senior fire officer John Keogh advised the public to exercise particular caution during this prolonged dry spell. “It’s so dry out here now . . . once the fire gets started at all, it can escalate very quickly,” he said.

Mr Keogh added that it was not yet clear whether the fire was started deliberately. “We don’t know what started it, it could be malicious or an accident.”